The Homework Newsletter

The HomeWork: December 20, 2022

December 20, 2022

Welcome to the December 20, 2022 Main edition of The Homework, the official newsletter of California YIMBY — legislative updates, news clips, housing research and analysis, and the latest writings from the California YIMBY team.

News from Sacramento

Earlier this month, the State Assembly reconvened to swear-in incumbents and newly-elected members. Assembly Democrats also introduced and passed HR-1, electing Assemblymember Anthony Rendon as the Speaker of the Assembly from December 5, 2022, until June 30, 2023. At that time he will be succeeded by Assemblymember Robert Rivas, who was elected Speaker-designate, to be sworn in as Speaker on June 30, 2023.

With this house resolution, Speaker Rendon will oversee his last Budget as Speaker, and midway through the Legislative year, Assemblymember Rivas will be sworn in as the new Speaker of the Assembly.

Housing Research & Analysis

Time is Money, and Money is Housing: Approvals Done (By)-Right

The results are in: The City of Los Angeles’ Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) program of permitting new housing “by-right” has helped build more below-market rate affordable housing, faster, than housing proposals in the city that are still subject to discretionary review. A new analysis by Manville et al (2022), a group including California YIMBY’s Research Director Nolan Gray, finds that by-right permitting was critical for the program’s success.

Key takeaways:

  1. By-right approvals work: “by-right projects were permitted 28 percent faster than discretionary projects,” after controlling for neighborhood characteristics.

  2. Faster timelines aren’t the only benefit: “By-right projects also had less variance in their approval times, suggesting that by-right approval offers not just more speed but more certainty.”

  3. Because of these benefits, streamlined projects tended to provide more affordable housing, as the authors observe “an increase in average project size and the number of units reserved for low-income households.”

Where’s the Missing Middle? Quadrupling Down on Duplexes

A new policy brief from Garcia et al (2022) at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation explores “Unlocking the Potential for Missing Middle Housing.” This qualitative study identifies important barriers to building more affordable, smaller-scale, multifamily housing for middle-income workers and families.

Key takeaways:

  1. According to homebuilders in states with new “missing middle” housing laws, “Changing zoning by itself is not enough to facilitate missing middle housing … (Architectural) design requirements must be flexible to allow for more units on smaller lots.”

  2. Duplexes may not be enough. Allowing more small apartments, in the 8-12 unit range, may be more financially viable.

  3. Rules about lot splits, design standards, and approval processes should be updated and streamlined to reduce uncertainty and enable more predictable construction timelines.

Houser Headlines

YIMBY Social – Top Posts

Thread from Sen. Scott Weiner on Twitter about the New York Times’ new analysis of density and carbon emissions

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